The Night My Dad Met Hank
One day, as he would later tell it to me, my father stepped into a bar in Bragg, Alabama to hear Hank Williams sing his own version of country music’s finest tunes. Now, Hank was not yet the star he would later become and this bar was not exactly the most pleasant of locales to take in a good time and some fine music. To tell you the truth, it was the roughest bar in the roughest side of town. My father knew this and more than likely so did Hank and so it was no surprise that when Hank broke into his favorite line of his favorite song, singing, “Hey, good looking, what you got cooking?” sending a friendly wink to the wife of a jealous man along the way that all hell literally broke loose in that rundown Southern honkytonk.
First, a fist caught the wrong fellow upside the head just the wrong way and then a few beer bottles headed the singer’s way sent the whole band to packing and before you knew it the whole place was a melee of flying fists and confusion. My father was caught right in the middle of it all when a chair laid upside his head split his scalp wide open and it was then that his fellows were sure to grab him by the arms and legs and carry him out of harm’s way. Good old Hank, for his part, however, had nothing to worry about. Like Prince Henry’s Falstaff, he was the only one to walk out of the place without a scratch, dodging a fist here and an overturned table there. His last words heard as he disappeared into the night were “Well, boys, I’ll have to thank you for the beans and biscuits. Now I believe it’s my time to go.” And with that, the man was gone.
The very next day as my father was getting his head glued back together the doctor said to him, “Well, Joe, you got drunk like an idiot. Now I’m going to sew you up like one.” That meant, of course, no anesthesia. My father said that he felt not a thing. We Mayos have always been hardheaded, you know.
It was not long after that Hank Williams’s road to stardom would be lit up in gold and it would be not that many years after that that Hank would meet his end along a country road due to a mix of alcohol and painkillers. As for my father, he never forgot the night that Hank sang his way out the door. It set his heart to burning just the right way for many years to come.
©2020 Will Mayo All rights reserved.
Will Mayo is the author of Hoodoo Voodoo And Other Strange Stories Of Life, Dreams Of Mongolia, Roadmaps Of The Mind, and other books of the extraordinary. He lives with his six-toed black cat in Frederick, Maryland, said by some to be the most haunted city in the state. Most of his writing is done between the hours of 3 a.m. and sunrise. He enjoys wordplay and strange tales, and hopes that you do too.